Tuesday, 29 April 2008

A handful of shows

That's all there is left now.
So I think it's time to let you in on the best kept secret of Battersea: the Lebanese restaurant where we eat the best falafel around every night before the show. It's become like our own little ritual: rehearse some scenes, go and eat falafel, have some of those really sweet little cakes with coffee, go back to the theatre, tidy up and play.
Sometimes we are joined for coffee by Vado, our Brazilian barman.
Although probably not this week, as he is preparing for his own event during Burst.

In the meanwhile we are very busy discussing logistics for our next bits of touring. There will be cars, boats and planes, but we'll update you on all of that when it happens. Because before that happens, we'll spend three weeks in NY. It's safe to say that we're very excited about that, but right now, I'm still very excited about playing this show in London. By now it's quite different from the show we played two weeks ago, so if you saw it then, maybe you'll have to come and see it again. When we all leave after Saturday, we won't be playing this show for a while.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Where have the pictures gone?

First of all, I noticed yesterday that if I use Firefox the pictures I uploaded in older posts have disappeared. If that happens to you as well, just use another browser (I checked and they're still there in Safari or Camino).

Anyway, it's the end of week 2 and once again all I can say is that things are going very very fast. So are tickets - if you want to come and see us before we leave the country, book fast, as we are selling out quite fast. (In all honesty, we're in a 40 seater venue, so this is not about showing off).

Over the last few days, we made a new scene and tweaked some other bits of the show. According to those people who come and watch the show regularly, the changes we've been making have been good. According to us as well, but that would probably be a bit pretentious to say that. (Even though I've done it now).

To those people who wanted to come and see us on Thursday: we are very sorry we had to cancel, but it was for all the right reasons, and some things are more important than theatre. We don't like cancelling, but sometimes there is just no other way. We all hope you could get your tickets changed for another night.

This is our first day off in two weeks, and it arrived just in time. It would have been great if the weather had been better, but hey, we're in London. It is what it is.


Thursday, 24 April 2008

Moving on

We finished Instant Epic, had a fun night last night and said goodbye to half of the team.
Elisabet is going back to Oslo (via Bradford, she said), Tomas and Katchenka are on their way back to Prague (with three full suitcases of costume and a golf bag we found), Cassie is returning to Paris, Jill's off to Birmingham, Tarek will still be in London and Unai will go back to his farm in Toulouse.

In the meanwhile Bob's on his way back from the north to start the rest of the My Life with the Dogs run now. We'll do a bit more rehearsing this afternoon (we've had a lot of feedback lately and we do listen to what people tell us and try and use their advice or thoughts in our further development of the show).

Vado, our Brazilian barman, took quite a lot of pictures during the show last night, so hopefully they'll make their way onto this blog soon.


Wednesday, 23 April 2008

We passed the test

This morning Kjell, Iva, David, Anna and I got up at the crack of dawn to get to the US embassy at 8am in order to get our work visas organised. As it said on the paper they sent us, we had to wait outside. At that time it wasn't raining too hard yet, but still. When we finally got in, there was more waiting, more forms, fingerprints, more waiting and then we were shifted on to another window to answer some simple questions. The woman who made up the questions (what's the name of your show, what's your favourite city to perform in in the UK, how long have you been part of this show,...) first had quite a lot of problems with Iva's and my name, and then completely gave up even trying when she got to Kjell's name.
She was very friendly and nice and it was great to get to the end of the system and find a real person.

Ah well, I guess that's how it goes if you want to go and play in the US.

It did make us all incredibly excited about going there. This has been planned for almost two years now, and it's finally getting close enough to be allowed to get excited.

By the way, Damon Albarn was there too. And some young guys who looked very much like they were a band, but none of us could identify them. Jill had warned us about the famous people at the American embassy. And she was right.

First though, we have one more Instant Epic to play and then 9 more My Life With The Dogs.
I like the mix. I like doing different shows. And I have the feeling the audience of Instant Epic enjoys getting an insider look into how we work and what we do.

Last night's show was short but good.
David's dance is an absolute winner.

Yesterday in Cambridge the sun came for what I think was the first time since we arrived in the UK. So we enjoyed it. We tend to have very long winters in this company. Last year at the end of April we were still having snow fights.

Some of the work we've been doing

Here's some video of the things we tried out over the last 4 days.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Someone in Cambridge loves us...

Monday, 21 April 2008

Country Profile - Norway

This is Norway...

Country Profile - Belgium

A friend of mine sent me this recording of a BBC Radio London review of 'In Bruges'. I'm not very interested in the film, but I was interested in what they said about Belgium. It's always funny to hear foreigners talk about the country you're from. So I decided to start a series of country profiles. It will take some time to get all of our nationalities in, but this is a start.

You'd think they were just any old shoes...

Our first week at BAC has finished and it felt like that went incredibly fast. We spent all weekend working on Instant Epic with some people we hadn't seen for a long time. It was a great weekend, we'll work some more this afternoon and then we're playing for a live audience.
Here are some of the things we did - which may be some of the things we will do tonight. But maybe not. It is an improvised show, after all, so who knows what will happen tonight.

Just in case you don't know and want to know, the show we'll be doing tonight and on Wednesday at BAC, and tomorrow at The Junction in Cambridge are not theatre sports. What happens is we bring a lot of costumes and props the cast can use as and when they see fit. It is not an improvised comedy show (even though it is usually very funny), but an improvised story telling show. Instant epic. So we're trying to find epic stories in the costumes and props and puppets we have. Instantly. Like instant coffee, only far better.

Tom gave some puppetry lessons and we explored the puppets Katchenka made for us.

Doing an improvised performance is a growing process. So if you come and see the show, do tell us what you think afterwards. We genuinely want to know. If you're really keen, come and see us more than once - it will be different every night.

Friday, 18 April 2008

It's Friday already

So to carry on where I left off, here's the new guitar:

But then there was the matter of the strap. The old guitar had holes drilled into it and a rope tied to it. It seemed a bit of a shame to drill holes into the new guitar, so the bass lost the battle and had to be drilled. Personally I think David just enjoys drilling holes into musical instruments...

We inadvertently set up a booby trap in the studio. It's in front of the door that is in use when BAC is using the front door, which right now they're not. Right on eye-level there is a metal hook (like from a clothes hanger) suspended from the ceiling. It's hanging from a black string, and there is never very much light in the space. So if anyone comes in the wrong way, bad things could happen... Every now and again we forget about it ourselves.

Today more people are arriving. Because tomorrow we start rehearsing Instant Epic.
So Elisabet is flying in from Oslo, Cassie is taking the Eurostar from Paris, Tomas and Katchenka are flying from Prague, Unai from Toulouse and Jill is taking the train (I think) from Birmingham.
Tomorrow all of them, plus all of the My Life With the Dogs cast, will start playing around on the studio floor. I wonder if they'll all fit. Or if they'll get injured by our booby trap. (I think I'll warn them).

But that'll bring us to next week, when Kjell will take over this job from me for a week. He said he can't wait to write about his drive from Oslo to London, through most of Europe. Or at least put up the pictures he took. I flew this time, and all I really have to report about that is that for the first time in my life I had a very smooth Ryanair flight where no one was rude to me and we even landed half an hour early. I also found out that Berlin early on Sunday morning is rougher than I thought it was.


Thursday, 17 April 2008

Post Press Night

Last night was press night. So it is quite possible that something will be written about us in a newspaper...
Before we started, we rehearsed the new bits a little bit more.

Last night I realised that this run is probably the first we do with this show where we can get feedback from people afterwards. Prior to this, we played the show in schools in Norway, where the audience (Norwegian teenagers) get whisked away to their next class as soon as the show is over. Of course we get an idea of whether or not they liked the show, but there's rarely a chance to discuss things further. And before that we were still in the progress of making the show, and didn't play more than 3 times in a row.
So now people tell us what they think. Sometimes it's helpful, sometimes it's confusing, but personally I generally find it very interesting.

We are also still investing in this show in other ways: it is time for a new electric guitar. Fair enough, I think, as I immediately sent David to buy me a new bass drum on Monday. So I guess he should have a new guitar as well, to match up with the new bass drum sound.

This is our gear:
my drum kit (it sounds better than it looks)

the guitar (which will be replaced soon)

By the way, the forest has stopped moving and has now disappeared completely.


Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Settled into BAC

NIE has settled in at BAC. When we all met on Monday there was a mix of overexcitedness (which officially does not seem to be a word, but I'm Belgian and will take liberties with languages) and nervousness, as we haven't played this show since November. We unpacked, and as usual some things had been lost in transfer. Battersea is a world of wonders when it comes to shopping, as you can see from Kjell's new tattoos. Being in the building at the start of the get-out for Mask of the Red Death makes the whole thing a very strange experience. Especially when you hear things like: 'the forest is moving'.
We changed over all of our European plugs to UK plugs (again - this must be the fourth time) and I fear that if we keep doing that, all of our equipment will end up having very short leads.
So we played a show on Monday night, and yesterday we made some changes and played another show. Some people told us the changes were good.
My personal mission yesterday was to find blanks for our gun. And I came to the conclusion that in the UK, it is much easier to buy real bullets than it is to buy blanks. In the end the National Theatre came to the rescue to cover the gap between now and when our new blanks get delivered (if you ever need them - the only way is to order them by phone). But at least David doesn't have to shout BANG! BANG! Which is good, because that would have been rubbish.

The past two days have been quite hectic, but I promise more pictures soon.

Groeten uit Londen,

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

6 days and counting....

From next Monday for three weeks we will be performing My Life with the Dogs at BAC, London. We have Company members flying in from Norway and Germany for the run. 

Last Tuesday we had a skype interview with Caroline McGinn from Time Out. It was a fun, (if less than smooth exercise) trying to speak to people across europe online but it worked out alright in the end!  Check out our preview in Time Out for the show.